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Portuguese wine seminarWhistlerCornucopia, now in its 19th year, is back this November with 10 days jam packed with wine seminars, chef demonstrations, fine dining evenings and much more. The festival this year kicked off last Thursday 5th November and will be running until Sunday 15th November so there is still a chance to head on up to Whistler and purchase some tickets!

Sponsored by Blue Shore Financial, Cornucopia brings talented winemakers, established chefs and entrepreneurs altogether for one of the best food and wine festivals in Canada.

Despite the rain and grey skies I headed up to Whistler last Saturday to spend the weekend at Cornucopia. Saturday and Sunday were both bursting with events throughout the day, it was hard to decide which ones to pick. I opted for the The Outsiders Guide to the Inside: Portuguese Wines, The Outsiders Guide to the Inside: Spanish Wines, and the Top 25 Celebratory Reception for the Saturday and for the Sunday I had a ticket for Foxtrot Winery: A Passion for Pinot.

The first drink seminar kicked off at 2p.m and was a lot of fun! Presented by Paul Watkin and Chris Funnell the pair bounced off each other with their extensive knowledge of Portugal and the wines from the different areas. There were 12 glasses of different wines to try, each accompanied by a tapas item which were both locally sourced and some quite difficult to get as Paul & Chris aimed to source portuguese food to accompany the wine.

The highlights were the José Maria da Fonseca Alambre Moscatel de Setúbal (smooth and beautifully sweet), the Quinta do Crasto late bottled vintage port and the Ramos pinto Duas. Paul & Chris spent several minutes describing each wine and the prices were offered at the end as they did not want this to be a focus of the seminar.

Portuguese tapas_cornucopiaPortuguese wine seminar_cornucopiaThe second wine seminar was led again by Paul and Chris and focused on Spanish wines. The crowd seemed a bit more upbeat for this seminar and talkative. Again the mini tapas were delicious and went so well with the wine. The goats cheese was incredible as well as the beans on bread with olive oil.

The Top 25 Celebratory reception was where the top 25 winemakers of Cornucopia were unveiled and was a lovely event where you could walk around and try all the different types of wines, learn about how they were made, how old they were and where they were from.

By this point in the day I had enough wine to be on quite a bit of a buzz and had to go and take a rest at my accommodation before heading out for evening celebrations!

I only had one wine seminar lined up on my second day, before heading home, which was Foxtrot winery: A passion for Pinot. The thought of sipping on wine at 11a.m in the morning (and all red wines at that) did make me feel a bit queasy at first but it’s surprising how easy you can ease yourself back into it! The wines came from Foxtrot Winery, located on the upper Naramata Bench and was presented by Winemaker Gustav Allander and Sid Cross. This time we had 10 wines to sample, four vintages from the Henricsson vineyard and six vintages from the Foxtrot vineyard including back to 2007 & 2006. It was an enjoyable and  informative seminar where we learnt about the decade long process of creating this wine and certain factors which have made particular years more challenging. Gustav spoke about how in 2011 there were some terrible wasps who kept trying to break into the grapes, therefore it was quite a challenge to keep them away and not let the grapes get affected. The passion in all those that attended and from the seminar leaders really made me love and respect the industry even more.

Foxtrot WineryPinot NoirCornucopia was a wonderful weekend away and I wish I could have stayed longer to have attended more of the wonderful looking especially the ones held at The Fairmont Chateau such as a Mixology Cocktail Making class and the dinner events that were being held. There are some incredible looking events taking place over the weekend so I would definitely suggest making some time and heading down, it’s a beautiful town, and a wonderful event so don’t miss out!